Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

Hospitals recruit janitors to front lines

September 13, 2012

WASHINGTON — Many hospitals are realizing that the expenditures that truly improve patient care are not expensive specialist contracts, but their janitors, according to the Scientific American.

Hospitals have come to this conclusion while trying to cope with the alarming trend of antibiotic-resistant infections, like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), the article stated.

touch pointsAccording to the article, while the chief strategy in stopping the spread of MRSA has generally been handwashing, the most dangerous bacteria can live on inorganic surfaces, prompting hospital officials to turn to staff members who know every nook and cranny of every room, as well as which cleaning products contain which chemical compounds.

"Hand hygiene is very, very important, but we are coming to understand that it is just one of several important interventions necessary to break the chain of infection that threatens our patients,” said Michael Phillips, a hospital epidemiologist at New York University Langone Medical Center who has been studying this problem.

Because of the superbug’s ability to live on such inorganic surfaces, the latest bacterial threats create an infection risk at least as great as health care workers' contaminated hands, the article noted.

"It forces us to raise the cleanliness of the hospital as a clinical issue, just as washing our hands is a clinical issue," said Cliff McDonald, a medical epidemiologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).